Author Topic: New city, new commutes, possibly by electric bike...what do you suggest?  (Read 3213 times)

ThirdTimer

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My fiance and I are about to move to a new city, and we're trying to figure out our living/commuting situation. Right now, we have it really great--we live 3 miles from my work, so I bike in, and he works out of our apartment.

While we're very excited about our new job situations in the new city, things won't be quite so easy commuting-wise. Our jobs will be 18.5 miles apart from each other. Based on things like cost of living, proximity to friends, family, schools, etc., it's likely we'll want to live in an area somewhat closer to my job, so something like 5 miles one-way for me, 14 miles one-way for him, but we haven't made a final decision yet. My fiance is a little jealous of the built-in exercise I get from my current commute, and is thinking of getting an electric bike for his new commute. Have any of you ever commuted this way? Is this a workable option for a 28-mile round-trip commute? How long would a commute of this distance take by electric bike?

electriceagle

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I used to build electric bikes (hence the name).

You don't need an electric bike if you have a reasonably flat route. If you are out of shape, start riding your regular bike and you'll get in shape pretty quickly; you're golden from there.

An electric bike is really useful if you have a lot of hills on a route is a daily chore.

If your hills are high-moderate, I recommend a bike with a cyclone motor. This type of motor applies power at the chain and allows you to use the bike's normal gearing.

If your hills are absurd-high, I recommend the Crystalyte 5xxx series of hub motors. These throw around a ton of power and are built for climbing a 20% grade. The downside is that they are quite heavy.

Regardless of the motor that you choose, you'll need good quality lithium ion batteries. When I was active in building, LiFePO4 was the state of the art. You could add enough batteries to go 15 miles without it being a burden. Batteries to last 25 miles are a pain to carry, but still acceptable.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2014, 01:07:10 PM by electriceagle »

ThirdTimer

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He's not currently a regular biker, but he's generally fit, so I imagine he could work up to doing the commute on a regular bike from a fitness perspective. But the real issue for us is the time involved. I'm guessing a 14-mile commute would take ~70 minutes each way on a regular bike (or possibly longer, bc a lot of it would be on roads with stoplights rather than trails), as opposed to ~25 mins driving, or an extra 90 mins of commuting time each day. We're both comfortable having somewhat longer commutes, time-wise, on a bike than in a car because it double-counts as exercise time, which is something we'd want to be doing anyway, but not an extra hour and a half a day!

That's why I wanted to know about how much faster the commute would be on an electric bike. My guess is that if it were much longer than 45-50 mins each way, it probably wouldn't be worth it.

Google maps seems to show moderate hills, with a total of 561 ft increase in elevation & 502 ft drop in elevation for the outbound commute.

Thegoblinchief

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The long/scenic route back from my work involves a similar elevation climb and a 12mi route. When I first started doing this, it took well over an hour, but in 9 months I have cut it down to 45 minutes unless the wind is awful.

14 miles one way is on the longish side of typical bike commutes, but if you can handle the time commitment it is totally doable. I would personally avoid electric bikes given the additional capital cost and lost fitness benefit.

electriceagle

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(Ordinary) electric bikes aren't that much faster than your legs. Because wind resistance is a function of the cube of speed, doubling your power output (legs+motor) doesn't double your speed,

An average cyclist can do 15 mph comfortably and easily. This gives you a 56 minute commute time.

An average, non purpose-built electric bike might boost your speed to 22 mph, which gives you a 38 minute commute time.

Rollin

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You may want to ask your question here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pU2kbghz85I - or for more technical advice - here - http://www.bikeforums.net/electric-bikes/

Great group of avid riders that will help you make that decision.  The commuter forum members have a lot of experience that you can pull from.

Even though I don't go as far as he is contemplating and I do not ride an electric bike I think it is more do-able on an electric bike.  For years I have been thinking of the same thing for some of my 15 mile round trip.  Not for better time even though I'm sure it would improve, but just for more ease.  I like my bike commute, but there are days when I just don't feel like putting in the effort.

I like the pedal assist bikes, not just the twist the throttle and go bikes, because I still want exercise.  I'm afraid I'd just twist and go all the time if I had that option (I might as well ride my motorcycle if that were the case).

Cressida

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I ride an electric bike. I use it for commuting but not as often as I should.

DH rides a regular bike. He loves riding. He commutes by bike every day, even in winter (granted, it doesn't snow much where we are). He does 80 and 100 mile rides for fun.

The other day, I had a sewing class a few miles away and wasn't sure how to get there by bike. DH offered to escort me there and back the first time, because he's a sweetie. When we got home (this was after 6 or so miles, somewhat hilly), he was sweaty and breathing hard. I was fine.

Take-away: Electric bikes make the ride WAY easier. OBSCENELY easier. Take from this what you will.

expatartist

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Take-away: Electric bikes make the ride WAY easier. OBSCENELY easier. Take from this what you will.

Yes, this. I ride an e-bike to work. When commuting, sometimes it pays to arrive sweat-free. Depending on your job/office, you may not be able to shower before work.

gooki

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A cheap ebike kit can do 25 miles per hour on flat ground. Add 10 minutes for starting and stopping and the commute is well under 45 minutes. If the city streets are at all contested an electric bike will be faster than driving.

surfhb

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No public transportation?

It's not against the rules to buy a cheap car ya know. :)